Esther Hernández – Mayor of Tuineje
“We have a commitment from the government to create jobs”
Ester Hernández is the new mayor of Tuineje and she is so young that it is hard to believe that she has been in politics for almost 20 years that have prepared her for this position.
Please tell us about your long experience...
I started in 2002 approximately at the Partido Popular, although I have always liked politics since I was a child as I used to go to meetings with my father and I used to enjoy them and was never bored. I became a member of the party when I lost my brother. It helped me get outof this family tragedy and was good for my mental state. I liked the team that was in place. Ana Padilla was president of Nuevas Generaciones and we are still friends. This motivated me to be a candidate in 2003, although I wasn't elected, but I was in a position of confidence for six months until the vote of no confidence when the whole team was taken out. I went back to work, although I was still involved with the party. I was a councillor for a short while, then, in 2007, I was in the opposition and also as a person of confidence for Ana Padilla at the Cabildo when she was deputy president. I left with her after one year, although my party remained in the government. In 2011, I went back as a councillor for the Partido Progresista, as at the time there was a break up within the PP. In 2015, I went back to the Partido Popular and I shared the Senate with a colleague in 2017. They offered for me to go back to the Senate at the last elections but I wanted to work for my municipality as mayor. The Senate was a very good experience and it was an honour to represent my island in Madrid, but my job is at the ayuntamiento. At the moment I am suspended at the party because when I went as a candidate I did a pact with Coalición Canaria and after three months, we had a vote of no confidence. Then, the PP filed for an exclusion order for me. They believed that they had to carry on with the CC and we decided that it was impossible to continue. After this vote, I remained as mayor since September. The issue is still ongoing, I am not excluded, but I am waiting for the decision from the committee. However, I am busy and concerned by the municipality of Tuineje that is more important than the party and I believe that we were right to have this new pact so that Tuineje can get out of this financial paralysis.
With such a political experience, it is obvious that the problems you are encountering will not scare you. It seems that it was very courageous to have taken that decision.
It was quite tough as I wasn't feeling that I had the support from my party, but I am thankful to my group of councillors and to the local committee who backed me up in this vote. I have always known that I wasn't getting into politics for the lifestyle, but mainly to help the municipality of Tuineje improve, as it has always been left behind. It is where there have been the fewest investments over the past 20 years and none at all for the 8 years before that. The Cabildo used to stop in Antigua. We hope that from now on, they will remember the other municipalities.
What is your occupation apart from politics?
I studied Hotel Administration and then I did a superior course on Tourism Information and Commercialisation. Although I am registered at the UNED, I haven't been able to have a career. This work takes up more time than it looks, thankfully, I don't have children and I can dedicate myself to my job without feeling guilty. My partner is also involved in politics in addition to his job, therefore, he understands and I like this position, being in touch with people comes effortlessly to me.
What are your main projects?
I would like to do many things, but I am aware that with such a small ayuntamiento, we won't be able to do everything. We have a very small budget. We are working on the General Plan and we believe that it is the first tool we need for the municipality to go forward, in order to give legal ground to the investors and the municipality, so that people know where they can build their homes legally. The heart of the ayuntamiento is the technical office, and I have to admit that it doesn't work. We are working to bring more human and technical resources to it because at the moment, it takes about a year and a half to obtain a licence or for any other procedure, which is unacceptable. People endure this as an emotional problem “I have to leave my rental accommodation and I have been waiting for the licence for my house for 18 months, etc.”. Since the previous term, I found a jurist who started working this month and I also have put an offer for an industrial technical engineer and we know we need to keep working along those lines. Furthermore, we have a commitment from the government for more jobs. New hotels in Gran Tarajal and El Aceitún will ensure that people don't have to travel south to find work. We want to speed up social services, create a nursery school, generate more public housing, etc. We are also concentrating on commerce with various activities and we are negotiating so that our harbour becomes a stop for cruise ships and we hope to find a solution soon.